Investing time into physical activities is a key component of healthy aging. As chiropractors, we’ve seen the difference being active can make in preventing musculoskeletal injuries, as well as maintaining strength and mobility.
If possible, we recommend varying your exercise routine to include both high and low impact activities. High impact exercises though aren’t for everyone, especially when beginning a fitness routine. High impact activities include exercises such as running, jumping jacks, plyometrics, jump rope, etc. These exercises put your body at greater risk for injury, especially if you’re recovering from a previous injury or are new to working out. That’s why we want to get you started with low impact activities; so, you can build strength, slowly increase your endurance, and get your body used to being active again. This article explores five great low impact activities to keep active.
WHAT IS LOW IMPACT?
Low impact activities are also known as “joint-friendly exercise”. You may still increase your heart rate, burn fat, and build muscle, but you’re minimizing the amount of impact or stress on your joints. An easy way to think of it, is that with low impact activities, you will always have one foot on the ground. If you compare walking to running, for example, with walking there is always one foot touching, while running has you pushing off and temporarily have both feet in the air, even if it’s just for half a second. The American Council on Exercise has proven that keeping one foot on the ground significantly reduces your risk of musculoskeletal injury.
Hands down, this is the best activity you can do for yourself. You can progress at your own pace, extending the length of your walks, your speed or even adding hills. Plus, you can make it social by walking with a workout buddy (of course right now it’s important to keep social distancing in mind while walking with a friend).
We’re especially lucky here in London, not only do we have mild winters that allow us to walk year-round, but we have so many great trails. Westminster Ponds is always beautiful as is the Thames Valley trail loop. When I really want to step up my game or go for an extra-long hike I head to Fanshawe Lake Trail.
Whether you’re in an actual boat, or using a machine, rowing is a low impact exercise that will really get you huffing and puffing. It’s a cardio workout that targets your core, arms, and legs.
Don’t be intimidated if you can only manage a few minutes of rowing at a time. While low impact, it’s a difficult exercise that will help you build up your endurance over time.
Being able to increase your heart rate and strength, with very little strain on your joints is a big benefit. There are several styles of yoga that allow you to choose the pace and intensity that’s right for you.
With summer on the way we can expand our low impact exercises to include swimming. Not only does it get your heart rate up, but swimming tones and strengthens the entire body.
A stationary machine that mimics the movement of running, without impacting your joints. Being able to use your arms as well ensures it’s a full-body workout.
These five exercises are a great start to your low impact routine. Keep in mind as your progress, that low impact doesn’t mean low intensity, you can still work up a sweat and build muscle. This is simply a safer way to be active for beginners, people with arthritis, connective tissue disorders, pregnant women… anyone really.
Dr. B.J. Hardick is a Doctor of Chiropractic and internationally-recognized natural health author and speaker. His health journey began as a child — alternative medicine is the only medicine he has ever known. In 2009, he authored his first book, Maximized Living Nutrition Plans. In 2018, he authored his second book, Align Your Health. An energizing and passionate speaker, Dr. Hardick shares his lifestyle methods to numerous professional and public audiences every year in the United States and Canada. His teachings encompass the principles of ancestral nutrition, detoxification, functional fitness, mindfulness, and green living.